Tom Brady, often criticized for his age and perceived lack of supporting talent, seems to step onto the field each week, leading a team that some liken to a circus act.
Despite the skepticism, the Patriots have recently defeated two formidable early-season defenses, mainly using the same roster previously dismissed as inadequate.
This moment feels like a pivotal moment in the narrative. Was this a display of football magic akin to a David Blaine spectacle, or were the initial team roster assessments a complete misjudgment?
One can only imagine the whirling sensation of constantly updating the ‘suck’ and ‘awesome’ labels for each player.
The truth is, the Patriots boast an abundance of offensive talent. It took them a month to truly harness this potential; undoubtedly, an earlier realization would have yielded better results.
However, this shouldn’t catch anyone off guard. It’s the nature of the NFL—a league brimming with skilled athletes engaged in a sport that demands strategic planning and teaching moments.
These kinds of transformations are commonplace. It’s time to stop being astounded by the same “got your nose!” revelations. We’ve witnessed this scenario countless times before.
On the flip side, and arguably most significantly, any perceived disparities in talent within the NFL can often be nullified by the finer details of execution in every play, whether in your favor or against you.
The distinction between successful and struggling teams typically comes down to these difficulties that transcend the binary of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in a player or coach. Devotion to these critical details is what ultimately leads to triumph.
I’ve lost count of the numerous video presentations I’ve attended where Coach Belichick painstakingly illustrated precisely this point. ‘If only you (or they) had executed ________, the outcome would have been dramatically different.’ Interestingly, these instructional moments don’t necessitate an NFL transaction to bring about a change. Curious, isn’t it?
In Sunday’s Patriots/Bills matchup, a pivotal play summarized many of the elements I’ve been discussing.
It’s easy to overlook in the fast-paced flow of the game, so let’s take a moment to examine a play that displays the fine line between excellence and mediocrity:
Newly acquired Patriots wide receiver Brian Tyms executed a spectacular 43-yard touchdown catch that significantly shifted the emotional momentum in this fiercely contested divisional showdown.
Without the seamless coordination of the following elements, this play simply wouldn’t have materialized: a crucial yet seemingly straightforward play design detail, sturdy protection from an offensive line that critics had doubted, a throw by a quarterback who defied his age, and an astounding display of athleticism by one of the so-called ‘underwhelming’ players.
Now, let’s examine each of its integral components:
The Play Call & Design
A significant portion of the credit for the success of this pivotal play belongs to Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. There is concrete evidence to suggest that the outcome would have been different had the space not been carefully crafted as it was.
This play hinged on a well-executed play-action call, incorporating a run fake that resonated with a previous play Josh had called earlier in the game. This detail is crucial for one compelling reason: the Buffalo Bills’ defense featured a player who could have effectively neutralized this pass play had the design been slightly altered.
Defensive back #20, Corey Graham, assumed a safety position, carrying both run and pass responsibilities. The accompanying screenshot vividly illustrates the dilemma induced by the straightforward play-fake, causing Graham to momentarily freeze as Tyms sprinted down the field within his peripheral vision.
Every offensive lineman values any aspect of the play-call that can hinder the relentless charge of the opposing defensive linemen.
When play-calls keep defenders on their toes, preventing them from launching unrestrained assaults every snap, everyone miraculously becomes a more effective blocker.
Alternatively, depending on your perspective, you could argue that the rusher appears less formidable.
By preceding this significant play with calls designed to keep the rushers off balance and then designating it as a play-action, McDaniels orchestrated a scenario where everyone is better positioned to execute their role.
Players once labeled underperformers successfully prevent some of the most formidable pass rushers in the NFL, resulting in a pivotal gain. It’s almost like magic, isn’t it?
The narrative on Tom Brady’s deep ball prowess has been debated extensively.
He was afforded the crucial pocket presence necessary to unleash a remarkable throw in this instance.
What unfolded was nothing short of a masterful display of deep ball precision—one that ranks among the finest you’re likely to witness. With that said, let’s shift focus.
Brian Tyms capitalized on the strategic setup and play design, gaining the advantage over safety.
What comes next is all about sheer competitiveness. By now, it’s evident that Tyms possesses an insatiable drive to outperform anyone on the current Patriots roster.
This hunger to win, honed from his basketball background, is glaringly apparent in his ability to secure contested catches.
Stephon Gilmore, the Buffalo cornerback, was the Bills’ tenth overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft. Few players on the field can match Gilmore’s natural talent.
The prevailing narrative often centers around the scheme opening opportunities for Patriots players.
It’s a testament to the team’s ability to thrive with individuals who might not be perceived as the most naturally gifted but generously bestowed with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s strategic brilliance, enabling them to make plays that might have been beyond their reach.
Once again, the narrative doesn’t conform neatly, as it often doesn’t in football.
Brian Tyms surges past and then gracefully vaults over seemingly more gifted players to secure a highlight-reel touchdown catch.
While the throw was undoubtedly stellar, the catch, executed by a player not necessarily considered a ‘weapon,’ was equally extraordinary.
Without it, this remarkable play wouldn’t have materialized, and the narrative might quickly revert to players being dismissed as underperformers.
This play ideally serves as a stark reminder of how the margins between excellence and poor are razor-thin, intertwined with layers of difficulty in this multifaceted game.
Let’s hope that people retain the intricate details of this play as they assess the Patriots’ performance throughout the season.
As always, I won’t hold my breath for widespread recognition of these subtleties.